Friday, January 18, 2008

Song of the Week: I Asked Him For Water (He Gave Me Gasoline)


I met a man once who had an uncanny sense when it came to people. He told me, "There is someone in your life who is important to you. That person extends a hand toward you, but as soon as you reach for it, the hand is gone. That person says, 'There is so much I could offer that would make you feel special and wonderful. I know what you need-- and I'm not going to give it to you!'"

I wish at that time I had known Chester Burnett's blues song "I Asked For Water But He Gave Me Gasoline." It would have been my theme song for many years. The first time I heard it, I thought, "Yup, that's the person that man warned me about."

The versions of the song with which I'm most familiar now are by Howlin' Wolf and Lucinda Williams (found on her self-titled 1988 album):

Oh, I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline
Oh, I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline
I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline.

I went down to the depot looked up on the board
I went down to the depot looked up on the board
Saw that train a running but I could not get on board.

I asked the conductor, "Can I ride the blinds?"
I asked the conductor, "Can I ride the blinds?"
Said, "Girl, buy your ticket, buy your ticket
Cause this train ain't none of mine!"

Oh, I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline
Oh, I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline
I asked him for water, he gave me gasoline.


You can find the chords for the Lucinda Williams version here. We sing this a lot in the House of Glee, but we often substitute the words for ones that are more appropriate for specific situations, i.e. "I asked him for coffee, but he gave me decaf tea," or "I asked mom for stories, but she made me go to sleep." It's a bit touch-and-go as far as deciding whether or not we have the right to sing the blues.

3 comments:

SevenImpossible said...

I love how you alter the song in your home! And I love Lucinda Williams, but I've never heard her sing this. Wah.

Jules, 7-Imp, who is so behind on blog-reading

TadMack said...

I think a character in my novel could be the guy who gives gasoline!! I knew THAT GUY too well. Wish I'd heard the song, then, too!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Jules: I believe the album is currently out of print, but still readily available. It's worth getting ahold of a copy.

TadMack: They're all over the place! I'll keep a look out for the guy in your novel. Of course, I have to read it first, and thus have to wait and wait and wait. I don't like release dates. I think that once a book is written and approved,it should be published immediately.;)